Shattered Skies is the latest installment from developer Sergei Titov, now, most of you may know him from his previous title Warz and with that I anticipate a plethora of negativity relating to a ‘pay-to-win’ mechanic. I would urge you to attempt to look past that and form an opinion of Shattered Skies based upon it’s own merit, because it’s actually quite good. Allow me to explain.
Shattered Skies is currently in an open-beta stage and is unfinished. It is an open world survival shooter, akin to similar titles such as DayZ, WarZ, H1Z1; with the exception of a distinct lack of zombies. In fact, there’s not a single zombie in sight which is a breath of fresh air from the current content being released by the majority of developers. Scrabble: Zombie Edition; Monopoly: Zombies 2, Make Some Toast: Zombie Revenge… You get my point.
For those of you who salivate at an engrossing lore, well, Shattered Skies is set on Earth, however the tranquility of peace was shattered (pardon the pun) when a colossal comet collided with the moon, the force of which destroyed the moon and broke it into many pieces. The gravitational pull of the Earth then pulled the segments down onto the planet. This then resulted in strange and bizarre crystal formations being scattered across the Earth, subsequently an alien invasion ensued. Bloody typical.
In the face of adversity, in the midst of potential extinction from an unknown alien foe, the humans do what they do best and that is to mine the hell out of the highly radioactive and lethal crystal formations. Unfortunately, the mining expedition was hindered by the pesky aliens, so, we declared war. Intergalactic awesomeness.
Shattered Skies plays wonderfully, that’s right, it plays wonderfully. I was running the game on the highest possible settings using my Nvidia GTX 970, I7 4770 3.5ghz and 16gb ram. The game looked beautiful and very rarely dropped below 60fps, which was reassuring considering the level of detail the map is inclusive of. There is a smooth and professional feel to the game, it’s fast and responsive with very little lag or graphical glitching. Graphically I wouldn’t suggest it was cutting-edge in terms of visuals, however the aesthetics are satisfying to behold with a style to suit. The dense forests and towering trees cast shadows that react well with the long grass or foliage. If you explore enough, then the tree line with giveaway to derelict and abandoned shanty towns, small cities. There is a real exploratory feel to the game and it encourages you to move forward and discover more.
Shattered Skies has clearly tried to produce a believable and immersive environment. As you play through the game, trees will bend and creek, footsteps will change depending upon the surface you’re running on. The crushing sound of grass compared to the hard and cold echo of footsteps on concrete. Enter a worn-down building and the sound will change to suit, it’s almost haunting and can actually place the player on edge. Gun fire is deep and hugely satisfying, the shotgun will have your headset trembling with every shot sending your heart-rate through the roof with every unexpected encounter with an enemy player The environment feels alive and rich.
Shattered Skies relies on the re-playability of the scavenger and the desire to survive. There is a leveling structure that requires the player to kill enemy players or AI in order to level higher. As is typical with this style of game, the onus is on the player to level higher in order to unlock benefits such as better armour and weapons. Unfortunately there is no base building or a mechanic that would allow the player to set-up their own base of operation to store items. However, that aside, there is a central hub available to all players whereby PvP is disabled, you can restock from your banked supplies, as well as crafting from the materials you’ve found.
So, with that in mind, the sole purpose of the game is to survive and survive well. In order to do so, you must ascertain the highest level and have possession of the best weapons and armor, which obviously can take time. There is a grouping system integrated within Shattered Skies which means you can group up with your friends and go out to cause mayhem. Also, the developer has incorporated factions into the game, simply choose your faction and as you play the game, either killing other players or AI in the form of side missions, you reputation will increase with each faction and unlock benefits for your player.
Combat within the game is hugely satisfying. Weapons are beautifully designed and have purposeful impact with each shot, each time you pull the trigger it feels responsive and deliberate, the recoil and sound can be exhilarating. If you’re fortunate, or unfortunate enough, depending on your own point-of-view, to be involved in a squad versus squad battle, then the combat will keep you on edge and engaged. It’s fantastic. Shattered Skies does not take itself too seriously, this isn’t a realistic shooter similar to something like ARMA 3, there is an arcade feel to combat which suites the style of game. The perspective can be changed from first person to third, depending on your own preference. I would suggest utilising both in order to gain the best advantage, but that’s wholly down to your own style.
As with the majority of open-world survival games, the long-term success of Shattered Skies will depend on the player base. If enough players can hold a high population within the servers then this game will have a real chance of being massively successful. Personally, I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience within the beta. I don’t feel there is much to talk about negatively, other than what you generally find with this particular type of genre, for example constantly salvaging and exploring can become tedious and without the interjection of squad battles, then excitement can be somewhat laboured. I would suggest however that is the floor of similar titles.
Shattered Skies has a whole host of positives, it has refused to incorporate micro-transactions which seemed to plague WarZ and left a community in turmoil. Shattered Skies does offer a package deal with your original purchase, which will give you skins and weapons, however this is a one time payment and regardless of which package you purchase, all players can ascertain the same level through playing the game.
In summary, what Shattered Skies does well, it does really well. The environment is beautiful, combat is responsive, fast and exhilarating, graphically the game is satisfying and feels well optimised. If this genre of game is your thing, then I doubt you can go far wrong if you’re after a survival combat shooter that you can simply sit down and play for an hour, or invest the majority of your gaming time into. If the servers hold their population then I would suggest Shattered Skies will be a great success.
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